WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

Significant WAVE Updates

WAVE logoWebAIM is happy to have released significant updates to the WAVE suite of web accessibility testing tools. These changes make WAVE a more powerful asset in helping you test and implement highly accessible web content.

The WAVE online testing service, Chrome and Firefox extensions, WAVE API (including its associated WAVE Runner service), and WAVE stand-alone API have all been updated. Due to slow review processes for Mozilla add-ons, the updated Firefox extension will be available in the coming weeks.

Visual Design Updates

The WAVE interface for the online service and extensions has been updated to a modern design. We’re especially grateful to Claudio Luís Vera for his design recommendations and mockups. The sidebar is a bit larger and the functionality easier to use. Accessibility and usability have been improved. The WAVE icons have all been redesigned and are now scaleable SVGs.

The Structure panel (formerly called “Outline”) now shows regions and landmark structures, in addition to headings.

The contrast tools have been overhauled and are now more usable. A more robust color picker and Lightness sliders allow you to explore various contrasts – and you can see these applied to the relevant page elements. On Mac, you can use the eye-dropper tool in the color picker to extract and analyze foreground and background colors from the web page – even from images!

Accessibility Test Updates

HTML regions and ARIA landmarks are now indicated as being structural elements, and several new tests/rules are in place:

  • Broken ARIA menu error – an ARIA menu does not have required child elements.
  • No page regions – no regions or ARIA landmarks were found on the page.
  • ARIA description – Elements with aria-describedby are now indicated separate from elements with aria-label.
  • ARIA button – Elements with role=”button” are now identified to prompt testing to ensure they are accessible.
  • ARIA live region
  • ARIA menu
  • ARIA hidden
  • ARIA expanded
  • ARIA popup

Several existing tests/rules have been modified, including:

  • Layout tables are now identified as alerts rather than as structural elements. This better encourages their disuse.
  • Due to poor support and removal from HTML, images with a longdesc attribute are now shown with an alert.

Innumerable testing bugs fixes and improvements have been made. WAVE evaluations are now faster, more accurate, and less prone to false positives than ever before. Contrast checking has been overhauled for significantly improved accuracy and speed.

WAVE API and Stand-alone API Improvements

The WAVE API provides an interface where accessibility data for web pages can be easily collected. Simply send the API a URL and it will return structured accessibility data. This allows integration of WAVE into your own systems (such as CI/CD processes), reporting tools, and authoring tools.

The API now uses a Chrome rendering engine. Processing is significantly faster and more powerful. The stand-alone API now supports analysis of most password-protected and intranet pages, scripted interactions with page content before evaluation, and much more.

Several other features and changes are featured in the API changelog and on the WAVE Standalone API page.

This functionality (and much more) will soon be integrated into Pope Tech – an enterprise-level testing and reporting tool that is based on WAVE. Pope Tech allows easy accessibility checking and monitoring of your entire web presence.


These are just a few of the new WAVE updates. More exciting improvements are in the works. We want to make WAVE the most useful and informative web accessibility testing platform. If you have feedback, bug reports, or recommendations, please let us know.


  1. Cindy Rodriguez

    When we use the form and enter our address to be checked, we get an error message. We have this problem with any website in our dadeschools.net We’ve been able to use this successfully in the past and just wondering if this has anything to do with the update.

  2. Jared Smith

    Cyndi, if you do not specify the protocol for the page (http or https), then for better security, WAVE defaults to https. When you https://dadeschools.net is requested, this results in your server timing out. This can be fixed by either entering the URL in WAVE as http://dadeschools.net or updating your server to either support SSL or to redirect SSL requests to the non-SSL (http) version of your site.

  3. Cindy Rodriguez

    Hi Jared,
    This is another example I tried. I entered the protocol and it still doesn’t work.
    If I do it with the Chrome extension, it does work.

  4. Jared Smith

    Cindy –

    That site – http://gladesmiddle.dadeschools.net/ – does not respond to any request. I checked online services and all report that the site is down, thus WAVE obviously could not be able to check it.

  5. Sherri Williams

    Hi Jared,

    Just want to say that I had noticed the updated design a few days ago before reading this article and it looks great! It makes the tool much easier to use and is very helpful. Thanks for the good work.

  6. Bill Tyler

    This is great for Chrome users.

    When will the Firefox extension get updated?
    Or has support for Firefox been removed?

    It’s still v1.0.4 in the Firefox Browser Add-ons.

  7. Jared Smith

    The Firefox extension update is in process and should be available soon.

  8. Joe Patrow

    Thank you, Jared and WebAIM! Many of us have been looking forward to this WAVE update.

  9. Mary Haasch

    The updates have greatly improved what was already an excellent tool for evaluating web page accessibility. I was wondering if there was an easy way to generate an actual document from the Details of the WAVE report? I’d like to use that in conjunction with printing the no styles web page with the WAVE icons to provide to the developers so they can fix errors and alerts.

  10. Jared Smith

    Mary, WAVE does not provide a downloadable report. You can use Pope Tech for this type of reporting, or could use the WAVE API to collect accessibility data across a lot of web pages.